Gov’t targets private capital for upgrade of ports

The government is targeting trying to attract private capital for investment in Greek ports, with a view to improving their contribution to the country’s overall transport infrastructure, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said yesterday. Speaking at the Fourth International Forum on Shipping & Ports-City Development in Athens, Kefaloyiannis said his ministry has begun consultations with Hellenic Railways (OSE) on improving port connections with the rail system. He said the goal was to elevate Greek ports into «integrated centers for the provision of logistic services, incorporating new technologies and advanced organizational structures and processes that will make them important links in the overall transportation system.» Attracting private capital toward improving the competitiveness of ports is only one of several policy axes, Kefaloyiannis added, and is to be accompanied by a re-evaluation of the existing national port network and the modernization of infrastructure, using both national and European Union investment resources. «The impending passage of the law on public-private partnerships (PPPs) is a substantial step that will significantly facilitate the participation of the private sector in the operation of ports and will attract considerable resources toward the implementation of projects,» Kefaloyiannis said. He added that the government has undertaken important legislative initiatives in order to remove administrative barriers to the realization of private investment in ports. Giorgos Vlachos, general secretary of the ministry’s port policy department, said the government is in favor of the deregulation of the port services industry being pursued by the European Union, under terms that will protect and boost jobs in the sector. He said in order to improve the competitiveness of large ports, the ministry will issue licenses for the provision of services by private firms beyond those provided by the existing administrative bodies. Furthermore, ports will acquire passenger terminal facilities similar to those at airports. The project, called «Nautilus,» budgeted at 10 million euros and due to be tendered in September, will provide updated electronic information about ferry routes and will offer value-added services in the domain of combined transportation facilities.